All over the world, there are thousands of different types of woodpeckers found in forests, parks, and other areas with trees. Woodpeckers are famous for their ability to peck out holes in tree trunks to get at the insects that live inside them, but you might be surprised by all the other things these birds can do! So what are some of the most common types of woodpeckers? And how do they differ from one another?
Woodpeckers are incredible types of birds that are known for their ability to peck vertically on trees and poles. There are several different types of woodpeckers that have different markings, sizes, and behaviors, but there are also some commonalities among them all.
Woodpeckers are easily recognizable birds due to their black and white coloration and redhead, but that’s where the similarities end. Woodpeckers come in all shapes and sizes, with many different ways of getting their food and defending themselves from predators.
In this article, we’ll look at the 15 different types of woodpeckers with pictures, what makes them different from one another, and some fun facts about these amazing birds!
Different types of woodpeckers with pictures
Downy woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)
The Downy woodpecker is a small bird that, as its name suggests, has speckled white and brown feathers. It can measure between 8-9 inches in length and usually weighs just around three ounces.
The Downy woodpecker may look small, but it’s also pretty nimble and eats lots of insects as well as seeds. It prefers to feed on fruit, bark, and sap from trees. They can be found throughout North America and south into Mexico with the exception of Hawaii. The Downy woodpecker is classified as ‘least concern’ on the IUCN Red List because its population is stable.
Red bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)
The red bellied woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker that ranges in size from 5.5 to 7 inches in length. It has a black cap, back, and wings with white lines on the wing feathers; a cream underside with black bars, and red streaks on the throat and chest.
Males have a red patch of skin on their bellies as well as red streaks on their heads and breast. They live in forests across North America and feed mainly on insects found by tapping tree trunks. They have been observed roosting with Red-Winged Blackbirds, Brown Thrashers, Chickadees, and House Sparrows.
Acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)
The Acorn woodpecker has a black head, throat, and breast. The rest of its body is yellow-grey in color. The average length of this bird is 8 inches. The acorn woodpecker feeds mainly on the seeds from various species of oak trees such as live oak, southern red oak, and white oak.
They also eat pine seeds from pines such as loblolly pine and pitch pine. They often feed with flocks or family groups that may include as many as ten members.
Golden fronted woodpecker (Melanerpes aurifrons)
The Golden-fronted woodpecker is a species of woodpecker native to North America. They are commonly found in a variety of habitats, including mixed forest and oak woodland.
Unlike most other woodpeckers, they do not dig nesting holes in trees but instead nest on the ground, building their nests inside dense clusters of bushes or brambles. They feed primarily on seeds and insects, which they find on or under the bark of trees.
They will also consume berries and nuts when available. They have a call that is high-pitched with an accentuated start and finishes. These vocalizations can be heard from over half a mile away.
White headed woodpecker (Leuconotopicus albolarvatus)
Adult males have white feathers on their heads with a red streak going from their forehead down the side of their neck. Males also have red markings on their black wings that form a V shape at the back of their wings where they attach to the body.
Females are brown with some white spots on them, but they lack any red markings or streaks. They are found in lowland evergreen rainforests up to 1,600 meters above sea level in New Guinea and nearby islands.
Red headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)
The red headed woodpecker is native to North America and they live primarily in eastern and midwestern areas. They feed mainly on insects but will also eat berries, nuts, and seeds. The population size of the red headed woodpecker is generally stable but the species has been declining for the past 50 years because of habitat loss and fragmentation.
The red headed woodpecker can be found from Eastern Canada through the Central Plains States and into Texas. There are several different subspecies with variations in coloration and geographical distribution. These birds tend to favor living near mixed forests that contain both hardwoods (trees like oaks) and conifers (needles).
Lewis’s woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis)
The Lewis woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis) is one of the largest North American woodpeckers. These birds are mostly found in California, from the Sierra Nevada mountain range to the southwestern desert.
They also live in northwestern Mexico and can be seen as far south as Baja California Sur, coastal Peru, and northern Chile. One of their main habitats is redwood forests, but they also inhabit other types of forests and suburban areas.
The Lewis’s woodpecker feeds on insects, nuts, seeds, fruit, and tree sap. It drums on trees to locate food sources or warn away intruders by using its long tongue to extract insects from holes drilled in the bark.
American three-toed woodpecker (Picoides dorsalis)
The American three-toed woodpecker is around 8 inches in length, has a wingspan of 15 inches, and weighs on average 1.5 ounces. They are tan brown to dark brown in color, with white bars on their upper wings and black marks on the outer edges of the tail feathers. They live at elevations between 10,000 feet to 13,000 feet.
Their habitats include mixed coniferous forests, mixed pine, and deciduous forests, mangrove swamps, and riparian zones near rivers or streams. As for what they eat – these birds primarily eat ants and termites as well as other insects that can be found on trees such as beetles, wasps, caterpillars, and others. These birds also feed off of berries and fruit when they are available.
Northern flicker (Colaptes auratus)
The Northern Flicker is a medium-sized, brownish, ground-dwelling woodpecker that is most common east of the Rocky Mountains. Flickers prefer large tracts of open habitat with trees and shrubs. They eat insects and other invertebrates found on the ground or in trees.
Their bill can be used to pry bark off trees to find food; the use of their bill for this purpose has given them the nickname whiskey jack. Flickers are noted for their pecking on hollow tree trunks where they create nesting cavities for their family.
In winter, these birds feed primarily on ants, which can be difficult to detect due to their small size.
Ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis)
The ivory-billed woodpecker is an American symbol and is often heralded as a link to the country’s past. It was one of the most sought-after birds by birdwatchers and wildlife conservationists alike because it was believed that it had gone extinct. At less than 25 inches in length, the ivory-billed woodpecker is about half the size of other woodpeckers found throughout America.
Its natural habitat has been destroyed due to human interference; therefore, this species has not been seen since 1944. Though there have been reported sightings since then, none have been confirmed.
Yellow-bellied sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)
The Yellow-bellied sapsucker is about 8 inches long and brown in color. The male has a black and white striped head, while the female has brown coloring on her head. The sapsucker feeds mainly on tree sap, but will also eat spiders, insects, eggs of ground-nesting birds, and carrion.
Like other woodpeckers, it pecks its food from trees with its strong beak. Unlike most other woodpeckers, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker does not drill into dead or rotting trees for their sap. Instead, they tap onto live trees to get at the sugary fluid that seeps out of holes made by insects boring into the bark.
Arizona woodpecker (Leuconotopicus arizonae)
The Arizona woodpecker (Leuconotopicus arizonae) is also known as the black-headed woodpecker. It is found in forests, deserts, and chaparral from southern California to central Mexico and into El Salvador.
It feeds mainly on insects but will eat other small animals, berries, fruits, seeds, and nuts. Males are slightly larger than females. Breeding season occurs from January to June with 2-3 eggs per clutch and incubation lasting about 13 days.
Nestlings usually fledge at 10 days old. Male and female partners take turns guarding their nest for up to 12 hours at a time. They have been seen living for over 18 years, but most individuals live for about 4 years or less due to heavy predation rates by feral cats and hawks, among others.
Red breasted sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber)
The red breasted sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber) is a species of woodpecker that is native to North America. They are migratory and make their home in Eastern North America, South to Central America, and up into parts of Southern Canada.
Males have red on the neck and the upper chest, females have no red whatsoever. This species primarily feeds on insects that can be found under bark or high in trees. One of the most common habitats for this bird is coniferous forests.
They also feed on sap, berries, seeds, and occasionally fruit. When it comes to nesting they like living in old cavities created by other birds such as Red-headed Woodpeckers or Northern Flickers.
Pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)
A medium-sized woodpecker, the pileated woodpecker has a distinctive crest that sticks up like a spike on its head. They have black and white feathers on their back with brown coloring on their chest.
These beautiful birds are one of the few North American woodpeckers to live in heavily forested areas. Pileated woodpeckers build nests on large trees or telephone poles which they excavate out from the center, making them even bigger than those of other types of birds!
One of these amazing birds is also called the whistler because it makes loud calls with very high frequencies that sound like whistles! The pileated woodpecker’s main diet is insects, so if you see this bird at your home or business, be sure to keep your windows clean so that the birds can hunt for food outside.
But because these big creatures fly only short distances and eat bugs for food, you’ll probably never see them coming into your living room or kitchen.
Gila woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis)
The Gila woodpecker (Cactospsiza gilae) is a species of bird from North America. Its habitat includes canyons, forests, high-elevation pinyon pine, juniper, and oak woodlands. It has a wide diet which includes insects and invertebrates. This bird doesn’t migrate too much but it will move around in the winter to stay in warmer areas.